From an East African orphanage to a New York girls club, this model's acing philanthropy.
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Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

When model Herieth Paul describes her stunning hometown of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, it's almost as if she's describing a dreamland.

"It's literally the most beautiful place in the world," she says, with a huge smile. "It's so warm and the air is so crisp and it smells like — do you know the smell after it rains? … The sun rays just kiss my skin. And the ocean water is so clear; it's so blue."

But then again, so much of her life sounds like a dream. At the age of 22, she's an "It girl" who's in high demand in the fashion industry.


She travels the world for fashion shows and models for industry icons including Calvin Klein, Roberto Cavalli, and Tom Ford. She has also quickly earned comparisons to the likes of superstars Grace Jones and Naomi Campbell.  Her signature hairstyle, a short afro, helps her embrace her natural beauty, rather than feeling like she's pretending to be someone else.

And that's a powerful feeling, since Herieth never wants to forget about Tanzania and the people there who helped her become the person she is today.

Herieth Paul in New York City. Image via Upworthy.

"Is this a dream? I still can't believe it," she gushes, regarding her blossoming career.

In fact, when she turned 18, Herieth accomplished one of her biggest modeling goals.

"I've always wanted to be a Maybelline girl," she says. She even remembers writing "Maybelline" on a piece of paper and putting it on the wall of her very first New York apartment before she had any other artwork.

So she could hardly believe it when her modeling agency told her the good news: Maybelline had asked her to be their spokesmodel.

But now that she's in the spotlight, Herieth wants to use her success to help other girls reach their goals.

Growing up as a shy girl in East Africa, she never expected to grace the pages of the world's magazines, but she always knew that she'd want to help lift up her community in any way she could. That's because it's not only the gorgeous scenery that makes her love where she came from — it's also the people of Tanzania, who inspire her to give back.

For example, her mother helps run a Tanzanian orphanage, Sachia Society, where Herieth volunteered as a young girl. It was an activity that helped teach her the value of compassion.

"I've learned to respect others," she explains. "Just being able to say … you come from a different upbringing but, you know, we can still get along, can still be friends."

And it was this compassion that ultimately inspired her to give back to people who don't have opportunities like the ones she had.

After all, Herieth knows she wouldn't be where she is today without a little luck and other people's helping hands. At 14, her mom signed her up to audition for a Canadian acting and modeling agency, which Herieth hoped would help her become an actress like the kids she saw on the Disney Channel.

Because she was shy, soft-spoken, and not yet fluent in English, she stumbled through her audition. Fortunately, the agency still saw her potential and gave her a chance to model instead of act.

Before that, she says, "I never thought modeling was an option."

Image via Upworthy.

That's why, throughout her entire career, she has continued to support the Tanzanian children back at Sachia Society in order to hopefully open doors for them and expand their horizons through education. She sends money from each of her paychecks to help them pay for things like electricity, food, and books.

"The amount of joy it brings the girls and the boys at the orphanage — it's better than anything you can imagine," she says. "The feeling of being able to give back to my own people in my own country just makes me feel so happy."

In addition to her philanthropic work back in Tanzania, Herieth also shows up for kids in New York City.

She helps mentor girls with the Lower East Side Girls Club, an organization that offers young women free programs in leadership, entrepreneurship, arts and sciences, and more.

"There's so much to be said about being a support system," she says.

Herieth volunteering at Lower East Side Girls Club. Image via Upworthy.

She loves the chance to ask the girls how they're doing so they know that somebody cares, and she likes encouraging them to believe in themselves just as much as she believes in them.

After all, if she hadn't believed in herself, the shy girl from Tanzania wouldn't have become the role model she is today.

Herieth believes everyone deserves to celebrate their own unique beauty.

She glows from the inside out as she discusses what it takes to believe in yourself in spite of the obstacles in front of you.

Image via Upworthy.

"Every time I feel like I have low self-esteem, I try to think, you're here for a reason and you're meant to be here," she says. And that's exactly the message she wants to pass on.

Perhaps growing up in a place that seems like a dreamland helped her realize that children's beautiful dreams can become reality.  

"I see beauty everywhere," she says. "Every time I travel … I see beautiful people, but not because of how they look, but with their hearts and their beautiful minds. I feel like beauty is just the energy that you give out into the world."

For more on Herieth's work giving back to others, check out this video:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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